Hulk was part of Andre Villas-Boas’ formidable treble-winning Porto side in the 2010-11 season. One of the other stars was record-breaking Europa League goal scorer Radamel Falcao, but he was the only of the pair to secure a transfer away from the club. The Dragoes have priced numerous teams out of the market in recent years but they now seem more willing to negotiate his departure. Having delayed his transfer for a while now, what is the best move for Hulk?
At 26-years of age, Hulk is in the prime position for a transfer to one of Europe’s top leagues, yet Porto’s insistence on a huge fee has left only a few clubs capable of signing him (the club had previously insisted on suitors meeting his buy-out clause of €100m). Now however they appear willing to budge and his most likely next destination has been mooted as the Premier League, where his robust physique and powerful running will surely make him a hit.
Hulk has the benefit of being a favourite of Brazil coach Mano Menezes. The Selecao boss opted to pick Hulk as one of his overage players for the Olympic Games, foregoing David Luiz who had widely been expected to play a part due to the lack of depth in the defence. It was a big moment for the Porto man as had he not played a part at the Games and someone such as Lucas Moura had impressed in his stead, he may well have found himself being squeezed out of the national team.
But he is yet to truly replicate his goal-scoring form at club level on the international stage. Despite 52 goals in 96 league games for his Portuguese side, his first goal for Brazil only came in late May. He may only have been capped 13 times by his country but in the build up to the 2014 World Cup, Hulk will need to improve upon that if he wants to be among the squad for that tournament. Staying at Porto will not aid his development in this department and could lead to a stagnation in his ability.
Chelsea, Manchester United, Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur have all been linked to the 26-year-old, and in reality any of them would suit him. It seems unlikely that Spurs and Manchester United would shell out such a large sum of money on a single player whose resale value is unlikely to improve drastically. However, history shows that that is not much of a concern when it comes to the Citizens or Chelsea.
Hulk has been a consistent goal scorer throughout his club career and he should be able to cope with the task of the Premier League. The player himself knows that a move would be beneficial to his career, but has insisted that it is not all he thinks about.
“I’m not obsessed to leave Porto. I like the Portuguese fans a lot and I have always done the right thing regarding that club. Now if the negotiations advance and some European club reach an agreement with Porto, I’ll leave. But we still have time to discuss this. The transfer window only closes in August.”
The 26-year-old would certainly offer Chelsea, who are seen as the main contenders for his signature, something new in attack, but he should not be considered as replacement for Didier Drogba simply due to his frame. Hulk prefers to attack from the right, dribbling the ball past players or cutting inside onto his explosive left foot and shooting from distance. He may have played centrally at times for Porto last season but this was largely due to the lack of a replacement for Falcao.
There is also believed to be interest in the Brazilian from both Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus. The latter would represent the better move for Hulk however, should an English move fail to materialise. He would be a huge signing for the Bianconeri and would immediately become one of their key players. He would adapt well to Italian football and would be testing himself against higher quality opponents than he would if he joined the French club.
Hulk would be a worthy addition to the Premier League, and it would be the best league for him in which to continue to improve as a footballer. He must push for a move to show that he can be a consistent goal scorer at the highest level, not just in Japan and Portugal, but also to stake his claim for a key role at the World Cup in two years’ time. Perhaps a few goals for Brazil at the Olympics in the coming weeks will finally help force the hand of a potential suitor and bring about the big move that he needs to test himself at the next level.
Follow me on Twitter @thwebber